Sights, Smells and Sounds

If someone, dare I say a publisher, ever reads my crime novel and criticises it for the lack of ‘sights, smells and sounds’ in the story, I am the one who should come to a grisly end.

One thing I’m not short of for inspiration are real life incidents/descriptions/vignettes. I have an entire notebook full of them: taken from where I live, from using the Luas (the Red, not the Green line!), walking the canal, travelling on the buses, etc, not to mention my day job.

This morning was beautiful: bright, fresh and sunny. As I walked to the shops I turned a corner and was met by a tree covering much of the footpath outside houses. It had obviously been kicked down somewhere and abandoned. Near it was a broken shoulder of vodka and the usual scattering of smashed glass and rubbish.

Not long after I came across six or seven refuse sacks dumped against a wall and a little fire was blazing, smoke billowing upwards. Two kids were hanging around sheepishly. People walked by heads bowed. I hung around for a while. Hardly anyone blinked an eye.

Just down the road, outside the local corporation waste management yard more refuse sacks were placed outside the gate. I see the same every Saturday morning. One day I was walking past with my kids and an older woman threw a plastic bag full of rubbish onto other bags and walked on, nattering away to a friend.

These are just examples – and I have to stress just small ones – of casual everday incidents in many parts of the city, no doubt replicated elsewhere. Casual anti-social behaviour and casual dumping, all in broad daylight. A normal part of life and the environment children, including my own, have to grow up in.

My novel, at its heart, concerns children, living in such a community. All the more reason the story should be, ahem, littered with sights, smells and sounds.

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About Cormac O'Keeffe

I am writing my first novel. It's a crime novel, a thriller set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about my journey. And other things, like fiction reviews and non-fiction reviews, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as crime and drugs reporter there, and have been since around 2001. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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